Soccer Shoes
So many options

You can have the most expensive shoe on the market, but, if the shoe doesn't fit and it isn't appropriate for the sport, don't wear it. Soccer shoes that fit properly help to improve your performance and help you to avoid injuries. Soccer shoes that are worn out or designed for the wrong type of field can lead to poor performance and possible injury.

How do you select the right shoe?
Soccer shoes come in a variety of styles and cleat patterns. Each cleat pattern is designed to perform under certain field conditions. Cleats can be screw-ins or the indoor type and they can be molded or have blades. The screw-ins can accomodate as many as 12 studded cleats or as few as 6. The indoor cleat generally has a multicleat surface or an overall tennis shoe look. The cleats are also divided into soft ground (SG) and hard ground (HG) styles (Fig. 1). There is a design for particularly muddy fields, and there are also a few styles that are made specifically for women.

Are you confused yet? Then visit your local soccer specialty store. During a short visit, you can learn about the different types of soccer shoes and what design is best for you.

What shoe should you buy?
It would be great if you could have several pairs of soccer shoes and wear them based on the condition of the field that day. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford to buy more than one pair of soccer shoes at a time. If you had to choose one shoe to buy as an overall, multipurpose shoe, what would it be? It should be a molded or bladed 12-cleat shoe. This cleat has been shown to be the most versatile shoe for all field conditions. You want good traction to reach a high level of performance and to also help you avoid the injuries caused by slipping, sliding, and abrupt stops.

How to fit a pair of soccer shoes
Several things should be considered when purchasing a new pair of soccer shoes.

  • Slip-Ins simply slide into the socks. All soccer socks have to be high enough to totally cover the shin guard. This style should not interfere with shoe selection at all.
  • Slip-In Moldable shin guards offer the ease of application of the regular slip in, but they are moldable to the individual. They offer more comfort and protection because of the close fit. There should be no problem with shoe selection with this style.
  • Ankle Protection shin guards have a padded feature that extend from the bottom of the shin guard to the bottom of the heel (Fig. 2). This padding covers the ankle bones and offers increased protection from kicks from other players. This style is especially recommended for players who are just learning to play soccer.
  • Shop for shoes in the afternoon when your feet are naturally swollen from walking and standing all day. Have the size of both feet measured. It is best to stand when measuring your shoe size. You will need assistance to do this properly. Do not assume that your feet are the same exact size. If there is a size difference, choose the larger size.
  • Lace the shoes as tightly as you will when you are playing. Walk around the store in them for several minutes. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely while sitting or standing and you should not feel any inner seams, which could cause blisters. For children especially, make sure there is a one-finger distance between the toes and the end of the shoe.
  • Taking care of your new shoes
    Soccer shoes will last for about one year, which can include a fall and spring season. Remember that cleats are designed to be worn on soft surfaces. Concrete is the biggest enemy to soccer cleats. The concrete acts like sandpaper. It slowly, but surely, wears away the surface and reduces the size of the cleat faster than the shoe is actually wearing out. All soccer players should have a pair of tennis shoes or slides (shower shoes, "flip flops," etc) in their bag for walking across the parking lot or down the sidewalk. Wear other shoes until you reach the grassy field, then change into the soccer cleats. Change out of your cleats when the game is over. The less time the soccer cleat is on concrete, the longer it will last.

    Soccer shoes should be treated like regular shoes. A little care will extend the life of the shoe dramatically. Here are a few more tips to help you care for your soccer shoes:

    The price of the shoe will not make it last longer. The care you provide will.

    Best advice
    Visit a soccer specialty store when purchasing soccer shoes. They will know what kind of shoes are available and can give you the individual attention you need and deserve.

    Bruce Getz, ATC and Rick Brannan
    Columbus, Georgia

    Further Reading:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Soccer Safety. Available at: www.cdc.gov/safeusa/sports/soccer/htm. Accessed September 23, 2002.